My 15-year-old son has had anxiety since he was 10-years-old. He refused to attend school in 4th grade. What began as a few days off here and there grew to days, weeks, months, until we couldn’t get him out of the car. We tried working with the school psychologist, we even tried moving schools, but it didn’t work. He has started taking medication, which has helped a little. He spends most of his time in his room, barely interacts with the family and will not go to any family outings. I’m completely burned out.

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Hi, I'm Dr. Kevin Skinner. I'm here with Parent Guidance to answer your question which is about your 15-year-old son's anxiety.

You noticed that age, maybe fourth grade, he began taking a few days off - and then it kind of increased to weeks and months until he just won't get out of the car. You've tried to talk with the school psychologist. That wasn't very helpful. Tried moving schools, and that didn't work. He's currently taking some medication. Might be interested in knowing what that medication is. Just - how he's responding to it, but it's not good enough.

Currently spends most of his time in his room, barely interacts with the family, will not go to family outings. He's just existing, as you say, and you're tired.

So, a couple of things here that I would want to address as we, just kind of start considering, where to go from here. First of all, we're going to identify maybe, minimum, social anxiety. But I wonder what that internal dialogue of his anxiety is? Like, if he was talking about it, what is he anxious about say in the school environment? Or, maybe even now, it's around other people? The other thing that we want to help him talk through is are those fears.

One of the things that we know about anxiety is that it's internally something that we begin to feel, overwhelming, and as we begin to feel overwhelming, or overwhelmed, - one of the things that happens is, we are physically, we can go into a panic. And, is he having panic attacks? Now, if so, that's probably what that medication is for. But those are the things that I would want him to talk through. We know that getting the language to anxiety is actually helpful, as they begin to talk through their fears and talk through their worries in a safe environment. So, as a parent, you want to create an environment where your son can open - up and talk about his fears.

Now, let's talk about some additional strategies that as a-parent you can implement. Number one, let's talk about - - helping him slow down his mind and pay attention to his thoughts, his emotions, his physical sensations. These are the three core things that you want your son to build to identify. His anxious thoughts, the emotions that come with his anxiety, maybe there's an emotional fear? Maybe there is an overwhelming feeling of - people are going to judge him? These are things that trigger emotion, inadequacy, fears and the physical sensation that we pay attention to is really the heart racing. Maybe I feel like I'm just going to burst out of my body. Those are panic attack like symptoms. Now, maybe you've done research on anxiety and you and you understand that those are the symptoms. Is he aware of those things? So, one of the other points that I would want to do is I would want to educate my son on what anxiety is, social anxiety, so he understands that there's something not wrong with him. These are emotions, thoughts, feelings, body Sensations that many people have. - - I know that may sound strange but helping educate him and help him understand what's really going on is a good idea. Really important and really valuable. So, that's one of those things as a parent you want to educate, you then - want to practice some of these skills that can be utilized in treating anxiety. Mindfulness, guided meditations. There are some really good programs to help individuals have a guided meditation to walk through anxious feelings and those emotions.

So, as a parent, I would want to obviously, educate and then practice some of these skills that anxious or anxiety experts are providing guided meditations, breathing exercises. And what that does is that helps the body feel more in control. We know with anxiety, there is a feeling of being out of control. And, so, we want to provide the tools or the resources, breathing relaxation, and one of the other things is maybe some good exercise where your son actually creates some of his own stress and learns how to physiologically work through that, some of the research has shown that exercise can actually help reduce anxiety. Now, these are just some of the strategies that I would suggest, some of the things that if you're someone's coming to me as a therapist, that I would recommend.

Anyway, thank you for taking time to ask your question. I guarantee many other parents are going to be watching this response as well because it's very common. So, thank you for asking your question here at Parent Guidance

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Dr. Kevin Skinner